One of Chef Dominique’s favourite annual tradition returns to his Belgravia bakery on Friday 28th December until the 20th January.
This French classic is made with flaky puff pastry filled with creamy almond frangipane, which tastes like an almond croissant but in the shape of a cake. It’s delicately hand-scored on top to resemble a crown and comes complete with a golden paper crown and a porcelain fève to hide inside so whoever discovers it is deemed king or queen for the day leaving friends and family to be summoned at every whim.
“For our Galette, we make a reverse puff pastry, where the butter block is wrapped on the outside of the dough during the lamination process, instead of on the inside like a more traditional puff pastry. This results in a crust that’s even flakier in texture and a rich, beautiful caramelisation,” explained Chef Dominique Ansel.
Once the galette is cut, the youngest child in the group hides under the table to give the name of the person that will be served next. The youngest person is said to be the most innocent one and therefore fair in the distribution of the slices. The person who finds the charm becomes King or Queen for the day and wears the crown. This person must also buy the next Galette and so the game continues.
The Galette des Rois is typically eaten on Epiphany when the three kings arrived in Bethlehem and has become a beloved tradition. The Epiphany 2019 falls on the 6th of January. The oldest finding of the Galette des Rois goes back to 1311 where a chart of Robert Bishop of Amiens talks about a custom to ‘draw the kings’ with a light fluffy galette. Interestingly, during the French Revolution the name was replaced with ‘galette of equality’. Another origin sustained by the Besançon’s inhabitants says that in the XI Century monks from Besançon elected their future leader by inserting a silver coin in a bread. This custom was repeated in other monasteries.